The epic conclusion to Ground Sweet as Sugar, the unforgettable coming-of-age saga of one girl’s fight for her freedom, her country, and her heart…1801: After two years, Charlotte Dillon returns enchained to James Blair. Once again, she’s condemned and he’s entangled with another. Yet the longing that has always persisted between them remains. While his sailors demand blood, James is faced with an agonizing test: How to exact a just punishment on the one woman he can’t bear to hurt?Bound in an impossible love, James and Charlotte confront cunning threats, endure a devastating storm, and face the tenderest of reckonings.Meanwhile in Ireland, Charlotte’s aunt chases down the mystery that tore a family and a country apart. A young lord comes of age still dreaming of justice for his brother. And when menacing shadows surround them, James and Charlotte must fight to save every piece of sweetness they’ve earned.Sweeping from a roiling Caribbean to a conspiring Ireland, The Virtues of Vice is Book II in an epic saga of power, punishment, and undying love.
In the carriage once more, James moves to sit across from Charlotte while tears well in her eyes. “I can’t bear to think of it,” she says, wiping her cheeks. “I may very well have caused the death of that man.”“You did cause it.” James hands her a handkerchief, and his voice is ice cold as he continues, “Whether ‘twas your blade or a comrade’s, you did. And you’d do well not to remind me of that fact. Patrick O’Mara was a good man.”Now Charlotte’s tears fall, and James can’t bear to look, so he fixes his gaze out the window. At long length, they ride like this, the bondswoman crying while the planter chews on everything he’s thinking and feeling, all the vicious things he should never say. Until finally, after a half hour passes, he looks at her and says, “How could you do it?”Charlotte shakes her head and sighs. “It’s a complicated matter.”“It’s murder. How complicated is that?”“It’s war. That’s different.”“Only in your mind are you at war.”“Are you calling me mad?” she asks.“It’s your rebellion that’s mad,” James replies.“Where’s my letter?”“What letter?”“The letter I kept close to my heart. It was in my bindings. Where is it?”“The one recounting how your rebellion lives on, though you are crushed?” James asks. “Would you like to tell me where those treasonous rats are hiding?”“What do you care? You’ve made it plain you have no enthusiasm for Ireland or her politics.”“I care about you,” he says. “I care that you not dare to take the one woman I cherish above all others into that fray ever again. For if you persist, there may come a day I cannot keep you from the noose.”
Catherine C. Heywood is an Amazon bestselling author of romantic historical fiction and a former political speechwriter and communications consultant. Raised in Red Wing, Minnesota, she studied international politics at the University of Edinburgh and has degrees in politics, writing, and communications from the University of St. Thomas and Boston College.She explored the law and improv before settling on storytelling. Her worst job was scraping year-old tobacco spit off a shoe factory wall. Her best is doing this.She lives in western Wisconsin with her husband and sons, and her interests include architecture and design, fashion and food.